Aha Moment: The Dream Syndicate

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From and
Dream Syndicate's 1982 album

 For 20 years, Sam Coomes has led the band Quasi along with the drummer Janet Weiss, carrying the torch for a punk music that’s relevant, funny, and hard-hitting well into middle age.

Coomes was born in Texas and moved with his family to southern California, which is where he found his calling. In the early 80s, he was a suburban kid with rock star aspirations — “a dork” — who dreamed of the day when he would “magically transform” from a corndog into a rock star. That changed when he saw the band the Dream Syndicate perform at the Tower Records in El Toro, California. “They didn’t look like what I thought bands were supposed to look like,” recalls Coomes; i.e., they weren’t cool. But once Dream Syndicate started playing, Coomes realized that image isn’t everything; being a musician is a state of mind. “I wanted to just rush home, grab my guitar and start playing. Instead of the idea of being a musician when I grew up, I realized that I am a musician. Right now. I’m ready.”

Quasi’s ninth record, Mole City, came out late in 2013.

(Originally aired: May 28, 2010)

→ Is there a concert, song, book, or another work of art that has changed your life? Tell us in a comment below, or by e-mail.

Music Playlist

  1. California

    Artist: Quasi
    Album: Featuring Birds
    Label: Up.
  2. Tell Me When It's Over

    Artist: The Dream Syndicate
    Album: Live at Raji's
    Label: Demon
  3. You Can Stay But You Gotta Go

    Artist: Mole City
    Album: Quasi
    Label: Kill Rock Stars